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MEN  OP MATHEMATICS
recovered. His humiliation when he realized what he had done
devastated him.
At last he escaped from what one French writer of the time
calls the foulest sewer in Paris. The cholera epidemic of 1832 '
caused the solicitous authorities to transfer Galois to a hospital
on 16 March. The 'important political prisoner' who had threa-
tened the life of Louis Philippe was too precious to be exposed
to the epidemic.
Galois was put on parole, so he had only too many occasions
to see outsiders. Thus it happened that he experienced his one
and only love affair. In this, as in everything else, he was unfor-
tunate. Some worthless girl (*quelque coquette de bas etagtf)
initiated him. Galois took it violently and was disgusted with
love, with himself, and with his girl. To his devoted friend
Auguste Chevalier he wrote, 'Your letter, full of apostolic
unction, has brought me a little peace. But how obliterate the
mark of emotions as violent as those which I have expe-
rienced? ... On re-reading your letter, I note a phrase in which
you accuse me of being inebriated by the putrefied slime of a
rotten world which has defiled my heart,* my head, and my
hands. .. Inebriation! I am disillusioned of everything, even
love and fame. How can a world which I detest defile me?'
This is dated 25 May 1832. Four days later he was at
liberty. He had planned to go into the country to rest and
meditate.
What happened on 29 May is not definitely known. Extracts
from two letters suggest what is usually accepted as the truth:
Galois had run foul of political enemies immediately after his
release. These 'patriots* were always spoiling for a fight, and it
fell to the unfortunate Galois' lot to accommodate them in an
affair of 'honour'. In a 'Letter to All Republicans,* dated 29
May 1832, Galois writes;
I beg patriots and my friends not to reproach me for
dying otherwise than for my country. I die the victim of an
infamous coquette. It is in a miserable brawl that my life
is extinguished. Oh! why die for so trivial a thing., die for
something so despicable! ... Pardon for those who have
killed me, they are of gpod faith.
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